Sermon delivered October 18, 1997

by Pastor Donald J Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

All texts quoted are from the New International Version of the Bible

No Surprises

The future just isn't what it used to be. Maybe some of you have heard or seen that film called, Back to the Future, where there's a big bad burly bully named BIFF. Somehow gets his hands on an Almanac that came from some time in the future. I like almanacs. I read almanacs. This is some of the finest reading you can get into that's non-spiritual reading. He gets a hold of an almanac that's from some time in the future. By reading some things that are in there, he can see who is going to win the world series. He can see who's going to win this horse race. There's all kinds of statistics and facts in here. By knowing the future This highly interesting book tells who wins the super bowl for each year since its beginning in 1967 when the Packers beat the Chiefs 35 to 10. Page after page of statistics and standings are listed. On the stock market, horse races, ball games. By knowing the future this man was able to win all wagers and become a multibillionaire because he knows what's going to happen.

Foreknowledge gives a person an advantage. If you knew which companies will be in the top 20 of the Fortune 500 10 or 20 years from now, you couldn't make any mistakes in the stock market. You would never make a wrong investment. You would have purchased stock in Bill Gates and his Microsoft network just before it took off like a rocket and you would be rich. To know in advance what will happen in the future is priceless information. Humans don't see into the future. If you doubt that, just listen to a long range weather forecast! We don't know the future. Human being have no idea what will happen in the future of their own selves. In fact, Proverbs 27:1 says, "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth." We don't even know what will happen tomorrow, do we? We think we do, but we don't. We don't know about the future. But we have a Friend who knows the future.

God knows the future. God is a quality communicator. God is not a person of secrets. He may keep a few secrets, but mainly He likes to share the future with us. He communicates it with us. He does not want to keep us in the dark. Jesus realized that the doomed inhabitants of Jerusalem did not have any inkling about their horrible destiny. You can read about this in Luke 19.

Luke 19:42-44 -"... and said, 'If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace--but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you.'"

The inhabitants of Jerusalem didn't know their future. Jesus did, and it caused Jesus to weep. When He realized what was going to happen, here He was, their Savior, and they rejected Him, and they were in for a terrible destruction in 70 AD. Had they known their future and their fate, perhaps they would have been different. They turned their back on Jesus. Only Jesus can bring peace to Jerusalem. But they rejected Jesus. Jesus tried to warn them of the future but they had ears that did not hear.

Fortunately, God still enjoys giving future information to His people. Jesus tried to do it then, but they did not listen. In relating the future God shares a portion of His divinity with us. He is omniscient. He knows everything, including what's going to happen in the future. It is up to us to listen and believe what God tries to show us. Our eyes are in front of our head because it is more important to look ahead than to look back. You connect with the future by connecting with Jesus. As you know Him you will know the future.

Amos 3:7 "Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets." This is an amazing scripture! God has unveiled His plans to His beloved people through His Prophets. Everything He does, He's going to share. There is something in the Bible that is going to tell you what is going to happen in the future. God has always done that.

We could mention Amos, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, and all the Old Testament Prophets. They were all scorned. They were largely rejected by God's own people. They were forewarned but were not forearmed.

Now in the New Testament God continues to give warnings. God gave Pilate's wife a dream about Jesus. Like a woman prophet she shared this message from God but Pilate did not listen. After Jesus' death "His honors were stripped from him, he was cast down from his high office, and ... not long after the crucifixion he ended his own life." Desire of Ages, EG White p. 738.

God has tried to warn His people. God sends messages through prophets. We have the book of Daniel, the book of Revelation. No one can ever say that God is SECRETIVE; that God doesn't inform His people of what is going on. There are no surprises ahead for those who are willing to listen to God and follow the instruction of the Bible. Prophecy did not cease to function after Revelation. You can go back here and read where it says, "The End," and you might say, "Well, God didn't do anything for about two thousand years because it's all blank. That's not true. God had prophets that continued giving the prophetic gift long after the Bible was written. In fact, there are whole books written about the prophetic faith of our fathers. The gift of prophecy continued throughout history. God in His consistent nature kept revealing the future.

In these last days information about the future is critical. If you're going to survive you have to have information. This is called "the information age." Civilization has almost crossed the ocean of time on our long 6000 year voyage. We are now about to enter the harbor of eternal rest. The ship is almost into the harbor. Before an ocean going ship nears the port, the harbor pilot comes aboard to share his special knowledge to guide the ship safely to its final destination.

I believe that's exactly what God has done for His people in this world. Our final destination is Heaven and the eventual new earth. We're almost there. I believe we're living in the final days. It makes sense that God would not leave us in the dark, especially during the last leg of the journey. God has sent us special guidance. Just as God gave the gift of prophecy to all those prophets in the Old Testament and the New testament, I believe today that He still does that. Just as God sent John the Baptist to announce Christ's first coming, so again God has sent His special gift to announce His second coming. That just makes sense.

Matthew 24:11- "and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people." This is one of the signs of the last days. When you enter the last days many false prophets are going to be out there to deceive the people. In verse 24 and 25 "For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time." God loves to forewarn his people. We are not in the dark!

If there were not going to be ANY TRUE prophets in the last days, Jesus would have needed to say, "Beware of anybody claiming to be a prophet," because in the last days there will be NO true prophets, only false prophets. Actually the Bible predicts the prophetic gift in the last days.

JOEL 2:28-31 "And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD."

So, just before the coming of Jesus there will be the gift of prophecy. You're going to see men and women being endowed with the prophetic gift. Just prior to 1844, in that period of time known as the great dark ages, from 538 to 1798, you're going to see a time of peace so that God could bring His final message to the world. There was a great time of peace that started after 1798. This time of peace is so that God could get His message out to every nation and kindred and people in the last days. So you see, the whole world is going to be warned, and then again the whole world will be plunged into a terrible time of persecution and trouble. We are living in that time of peace today.

But God does not leave his people helpless. Here is a promise and a prediction. Revelation 12:17- "Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring--those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus." Two identifying marks. These people love the law and they love the Lamb.

The devil is still mad as he always is. I don't think he is ever a happy person. He is still mad at God's true church. And he resumes his war after this period of peace against the last saintly survivors (the remnant people) that are left on the face of the earth. These people love Jesus and they love His commandments. They are not defenseless! They have the Testimony of Jesus! What is that? That is the key to the future. That is like having an ALMANAC for that period of time way in advance. That enables them to be successful. Unless they have not bothered to read the almanac.

Revelation 19:10 says that the Testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of PROPHECY. This means that God is still revealing the future to His special remnant people. For them there will be no surprises. That is.... unless they have not bothered to read the almanac! For those who have not bothered to read, there will be a lot of surprises. Is it going to surprise you, for instance, when a great earthquake hits Chicago? No, because you've read it. It's in the books. It's there.

I believe that God gave precious enriching advance information about the future to a little teenage girl named Ellen. We know her as Ellen White. From 1844 when she was 17 until 1915 she was given more than 2000 visions! Her life-long work was to write out what God revealed to her. So she wrote by hand almost 100,000 pages of valuable information from God for His last people living in the last days.

One outstanding warning about the future was given 96 years ago this past Thursday (October 16, 1901). It seems that our Seventh day-Adventist publishing house (the Review and Herald) was printing some worldly books on its presses. She wrote: "The office must be purged of this objectionable matter. I have been almost afraid to open the Review, fearing to see that God has cleansed the publishing house by FIRE! ...Unless there is a reformation, calamity will overtake the publishing house, and the world will know the reason." Testimonies, vol. 8, pp. 91, 96.- EG White.

14 months later the Review and Herald building burned to the ground on the night of December 30, 1902.

That same year she was shown the future and wrote: "Tent meetings should be held in the large cities such as San Francisco, for not long hence these cities will suffer under the judgments of God. San Francisco and Oakland are becoming as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Lord will visit them with Wrath." Evangelism, pp. 403-404 - EG White.

On the morning of April 18, 1906 San Francisco was struck by a strong earthquake. 28,000 buildings were destroyed. A few Adventists had moved out of San Francisco, but most had were still there. Evidently they had not read the "Almanac" the red books. Thousands of our people suffered because they did not know the future even though it had been clearly revealed.

You can't plan for the future in the future: today is the time to heed God's warnings. It is a sad fact that many who are zealous in their preparation for a rainy day are totally unprepared for eternity despite God's clear word. We need not worry about what the future holds, if we know who holds the future. Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. We have nothing to fear for the future except we forget the way God has led us in the past.

AMOS 3:7 "Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets."

Now, God does have a plan. And He reveals His plan through His servants the prophets. If it has been some time since you have read the books of Ellen White, you should get them out and allow God to speak to you through this prophet for the last days. If you have never read from these writings, I urge you to take the plunge.

Of course if you only have a limited time you must first read the BIBLE. Ellen White's books can never be a substitute for the Scriptures. They cannot be placed on the same level as the Bible. In fact, should you place anything on top of the Bible? I don't. Ellen White's writings are designed to lead you to the Bible and to Jesus Christ the Saviour of the world. The Bible needs to be first in our lives. The Bible is designed to lead you to heaven. I believe these writings of EG White are designed to lead you to heaven, but they're mainly designed to lead you back to the bible. "Additional truth is not brought out" in her writings. (Testimonies Vol. 5, p.660) They are a lessor light designed to lead you to the greater light. But they are a valuable light, aren't they?

God warns His people about the hazards of the last days. Many bright lights will go out and many will leave His chosen people before the end of time. Nevertheless, God's true church will go through to the very end. The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains, while the sinners in Zion will be sifted out. The chaff will be separated from the precious wheat. (See Selected Messages, Vol. 2, p. 380 - EG White)

In 1893 she wrote: "Let all be careful not to make an outcry against the only people who are fulfilling the description given of the remnant people (Revelation 12:17) who keep the commandments of God and have faith in Jesus... God has a distinct people, a church on earth, SECOND TO NONE... If you are teaching that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is Babylon you are wrong." Last Day Events, p. 43 - EG White.

I want to conclude with the words of Radio commentator, Paul Harvey. Just 3 weeks ago on the noon news he made an amazing statement. He said this on September 25, 1997: "Women have been honored on American postage stamps for more than 100 years; starting with one woman who was not an American, Queen Isabella in 1893. Since then, 86 women have been honored ranging from Martha Washington to Marilyn Monroe; also many women authors like Louisa May Alcott, Emily Dickinson, Willie Cather, and Rachael Carson. "But I can name an American woman author who has never been honored thus, though her writings have been translated into 148 languages. More than Marx or Tolstoy. More than Agatha Christie, more than William Shakespeare. Only now is the world coming to appreciate her recommended prescription for optimum Spiritual and physical health: ELLEN WHITE. Ellen White! You don't know her? Get to know her."

Today Jesus has revealed the future to His people. Let us accept the last day guidance He has provided and not reject it like the God's people did in Bible times.

Opening Hymn: 221 Rejoice, the Lord is King
Worship in Word: Responsive Reading #802
Closing Hymn: 551 Jesus Savior, Pilot Me

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